/multimedia/Interactives/beethoven-rocks/meet-mr-big

Beethoven: Meet Mr. Big

Get to know Classical music's biggest star

About

There are four Web shows in the Beethoven Rocks! Series:

  • Meet Mr. Beethoven (this page), where you’ll get to know more about the man and his music.
  • Get the story on Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, with its famous “da-da-da-DUM.”
  • Explore his Pastoral Symphony, which paints a scene of country life using music.
  • Learn about an important section of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, called the “Ode to Joy”— and maybe you’ll even sing along!

Check them out!

Subscribe to this audio series:

Get ready to meet one of the biggest names in music.

This interactive media player gives you an introduction to the life and work of the Classical music composer Ludwig van Beethoven. Beethoven’s greatest hits include Moonlight Sonata, Für Elise, “Ode to Joy,” and his famous Fifth Symphony. You might not recognize these titles, but you’re sure to know the melodies. You hear them today in movies, television, ring tones—and orchestral concert halls.

In this player, you’ll be introduced to Mr. B by listening to an audio story followed by a few slides to help you get to know more about his life and work.

Rock out

Musical Terms You Should Know

Symphony: A long work for orchestra in three or four smaller parts called “movements.”

Motif: A short rhythmic or melodic idea that is repeated in a composition.

Sonata: A musical composition for one, two, or three instruments in three or four movements.

String quartet: A group of four musicians, usually two violins, a viola, and a cello.

Beethoven: Meet Mr. Big

Did you know two hundred years ago, Ludwig van Beethoven was the world’s most popular rock star? And guess what? He’s still BIG!

Ludwig van Beethoven (pronounced LOOD-vig VAHN BAY-toh-ven) was born in a small city in Germany in 1770. Little Ludwig started playing the piano when he was very small—so small he had to stand on the piano bench to reach the keys. When his father heard him play, he knew right away that he would be a big star.

To get to know the basics on Beethoven:

  • First, listen to the audio story in the player above.
  • If there were parts you found interesting (or may have missed), listen to the clip again.
  • Click through the Slideshow. It has information about Beethoven’s life.


 

and Rock On

Keep going!

Don’t stop with just the basics—push yourself a little, and learn more about Big Mr. Beethoven.

After you have listened to the story and read the slides, talk or write about these ideas:

  • What does it mean to be “big”? How “big” can one person get? Does “being big” mean size only—or can it refer to impact? Can people do something “small” and still have a big impact? What is something “big” or “small” that students want to do with their lives?
  • How does Beethoven’s deafness impact how we feel about his work? Beethoven’s disability affected his social life more than his music, since he was able to write truly great compositions after he lost all his hearing. Today, Beethoven’s deafness doesn’t make his great work any “greater,” but it does suggest the incredible dedication he applied to his life’s work.

For the Educator

Bigger than You Might Expect

There’s a lot to cover when teaching about Beethoven and his music. The resources in this set contain information about composer Ludwig van Beethoven, and listening activities relating to three major symphonies (the 5th, 6th and 9th.) The activities are designed for grades 4 and up, and may be presented by the classroom teacher or music specialist.

The listening activities in this player were originally created to support the National Symphony Orchestra’s Young People’s Concert Beethoven Rocks! Some of the clips reference the concert— specifically the “Ode to Joy” sing-along practice track— but this will not impact most classroom uses.

In addition, our Elementary Music advisor, Russell Nadel of the Fairfax County (Virginia) Public School system, has shared SMART Board files that incorporate and extend these resources for interactive whiteboards.

Beethoven: Meet Mr. Big

This player— with audio story and slides— is the first of four resources in our Beethoven Rocks! series.

In this overview section, students are introduced to Beethoven as a “big” figure in classical music and learn how his bold approach to music made him a true rock star in his day.  After students listen to the story, and read the slides (on their own or together) you can lead them in discussion, invite them to write or talk in small groups.

Here are some ideas for talking about the “bigness” of Beethoven:

  • Ask students to name three “big” things that Beethoven did with his life. Ask students to name three “big” people in the world. What does “big” mean? Review the vocabulary and use those words (and others) to describe people or events in the world. How “big” can one person get? Does “being big” mean size only—or can it refer to impact? Can people do something “small” and still have a big impact? What is something “big” or “small” that students want to do with their lives?


  • Lead a discussion with students about deafness. Ask: How does Beethoven’s deafness impact how we feel about his work? Beethoven’s disability affected his social life more than his music, since he was able to write truly great compositions after he lost all his hearing. Today, Beethoven’s deafness doesn’t make his great work any “greater,” but it does suggest the incredible dedication he applied to his life’s work. Discuss deafness with students and how current attitudes toward the deaf community differ from attitudes that existed in Beethoven’s day. What obstacles might he have faced?

In addition to the suggestions here, each Beethoven Rocks! player has prompts and suggested focus questions for students to use as-- and after-- they listen. They are contained in the tabs beneath the player. 

Credits

Writers

Doug Cooney
Original Writer

ARTSEDGE Staff

Editors & Producers

Richard Paul
Audio Producer

Lisa Resnick
Content Editor

ARTSEDGE

Media Credits

Special thanks to our narrator, Susan Stamberg of National Public Radio.

Music courtesy of Naxos America.

Bagatelle in A minor, WoO 23, "Fur Elise" by Ludwig Van Beethoven
Balazs Szokolay, piano
Piano Sonata No. 14 in C sharp minor, Op. 27, No. 2, "Moonlight" by Ludwig Van Beethoven
Jeno Jando, piano
Naxos 8.556651

Symphony No. 1 in C major, Op. 21 by Ludwig Van Beethoven
Symphony No. 6 in F major, Op. 68, "Pastoral" by Ludwig Van Beethoven
Nicolaus Esterhazy Sinfonia, Bela Drahos, Conductor
Naxos 8.553474

Symphony No. 3 in E flat major, Op. 55, "Eroica" by Ludwig Van Beethoven
Nicolaus Esterhazy Sinfonia, Bela Drahos, Conductor
Naxos 8.550178

Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67 by Ludwig Van Beethoven
Nicolaus Esterhazy Sinfonia, Bela Drahos, Conductor
Naxos 8.553476

Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125, "Choral" by Ludwig Van Beethoven
Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus, Richard Edlinger, Conductor
Gabriele Lechner, soprano
Diane Elias, contralto
Michael Pabst, tenor
Robert Holzer, bass-baritone
Naxos 8.550181

Mastering by Hillside Recording

Illustrations by Jim Caputo of Groggy Dog Studios

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